Richard W. Jennings


Judas flung his poisoned coins away then hanged himself.
At eighty-eight, infirm and in pain, Dr. Potts knew his days, too, were
On his eMac he began a list of methods to bid the world farewell.
A pistol used once would be a waste of five hundred dollars.
His car running in his garage could kill his dogs and neighbors.
Leaping from the roof of a tall building was for younger men. Old men have
difficulty with stairs.
Ditto for diving into a frozen pond, falling from a cruise ship, drinking roach
control and crossing the highway with his cane.
The problem with sleeping pills was worse. Most who attempt this wind up in
a vegetative state. Who knows how many pills to take, even with a liter of
superb Tennessee whisky?
Worked for Judas. But these days someone always interrupts.
Plastic bag over your head?
Faking a shoot-out with the cops?
Burning the house down, falling on a live grenade, spending all day in a
tanning salon, eating Japanese blowfish, smoking ten thousand cigarettes,
cutting one’s throat with a kitchen knife, traveling to a war zone with the
wrong flag?
All of these Dr. Potts ruled out for one reason or another.
The next morning, a sleep-deprived Daschell Potts, Ph.D., retrieved the
newspaper from his driveway.
He began to scan the local news, pausing to read about a local man whose car
had become “stuck upon the train tracks.”
Despite being in a Volvo, the epitome of safety engineering, the man, named
Richard Cory, died on the scene a mile from where he’d started.
Dr. Potts asked himself, How does one get stuck upon train tracks?
Then he realized Richard Cory wasn’t stuck. He had stopped.
Richard Cory’s death was called an accident.
The railroad offered his family a generous settlement.
With a single click, Daschell Potts, Ph.D., deleted his list.
The answers always lie in front of us.

Richard W. Jennings, 64, of Overland Park, is a professional author of novels for middle readers published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston, and Bantam Books, New York, and a sought-after speaker by universities, junior colleges, middle and junior high schools. He is also recipient of many literary awards. Could it be because he’s a great storyteller in both prose and poetry? His sign is Scorpio.